1784 - 1862
Staple Inn, Holborn

Watercolour and ink on paper
Image size: 6 1/2 x 10 1/2 inches (16.5 x 27 cm)

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Featuring the Staple Inn, a Tudor building on the south side of High Holborn street in the City of London. Staple Inn is the most intact survivor of the Inns of Chancery, situated immediately south of Chancery Lane underground station.

First recorded in the 13th century as ‘le Stapled Halle’, the name probably signified a covered hall built with pillars (from Old English stapel, ‘column’ or ‘tree trunk’). Originally a wool market, it became c.1415 the home of the Society of Staple Inn, an association of lawyers and legal students. In 1580 the society built a new and magnificent hall, followed in 1586 by buildings facing High Holborn. The latter remain almost unaltered but the hall was hit by a flying bomb in 1944. It was afterwards rebuilt to the original plan, retaining materials that had been salvaged from the wreckage or, like the stained-glass windows, had been earlier placed in storage. Since 1887 Staple Inn has been the headquarters of the Institute of Actuaries.

On the right of this picture can be seen the Southern Eastern corner of Middle Row, later demolished to ease traffic congestion.


George ‘Sidney’ Shepherd was a British draughtsman and watercolourist.

Until 1793 he lived in France (where his younger brother was born), returning to Britain on the outbreak of the Great French War. Shepherd was awarded a silver palette by the Society of Arts in 1803 and again in the following year.

He was a contributor to John Britton’s The Architectural Antiquities of Great Britain, vol IV, in the early 19th century. He Illustrated, with others, Architectura Ecclesiastica Londini (1819) by Charles Clarke. He worked on and off throughout his career with publisher, Rudolph Ackermann, who published a series of street views, Ackermann’s repository of Arts, containing illustrations from both George, and his brother, Thomas Hosmer Shepherd.

He first married in 1812, Anna Sarah Lonnon of Bedfordshire.

In 1831, Shepherd was one of the founder members of the resurrected New Society of Painters in Watercolours (now the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours). The society was first formed in 1807, as a result of the Royal Academy of Arts, at that time, refusing to accept watercolours, as an important contribution to art. The society attracted leading watercolour artists of that period, including David Cox, Peter De Wint, William Blake, Samuel Prout, Paul Sandby, and Joseph Powell. It closed in 1812 due to financial problems. In 1850 there was a movement to expel him for non–payment of dues, but on further investigation he was deemed to be impoverished and was instead made an Honorary Member.

10 years later, he became bedridden and was granted a pension.